The Art and Science of Travel and Packing.

McComb @ DeskI remember vividly the time that I saw Billy McComb at his most animated and excited; he had just been to the supermarket and bought a box full of clear plastic, zip lock, baggies. He was practically shaking with delight as he showed them to me. It seemed, even for Billy, rather eccentric to get this excited over little clear sandwich containers, but as usual when I got the actual drift of his thinking I started to share his enthusiasm. He wasn’t planning on taking along a ham and cheese sandwich to his next gig but had a loftier vision.

Before long Billy had all the items from his vast working repertoire contained in different sized, heavy weight baggies. Each trick was carefully packed inside its own baggie, with every item needed for the performance contained within it. On the outside of each bag was written in felt-tip pen the name of the trick inside the bag.

The main advantage of this method was of course that you didn’t arrive at your gig and find that a reel, pen, thumb tip or handkerchief that was vital to the effect was missing. In fact better still you could survey the contents of each bag without even opening it and double check that all the replaceable items, for example; thread, flashpaper, envelopes etc. had in fact been replaced.

It was such a simple and effective idea that only a genius like McComb could have developed it. Of course, being Billy, he did get a little carried away and he NL PsyRoyal cover-1extended the idea to coffee shop items. He almost always had a baggie full of miniature containers of sugar, creamer, tea bags etc. in his pocket somewhere.

On one of my very first meetings with Billy at a very youthful age, he showed me the old trick where you appear to stick a coin on your forehead and when you remove it and hand it to the spectator to duplicate your action, there is a blood red nail sticking out the back. It wasn’t the trick that Billy seemed to enjoy so much as the fact that he had fashioned a cork with a hole in it that fitted the gimmicked half crown and made it a considerably easier and safer prop to carry around in your pocket. He gave me the faked coin in its cork as a present. I didn’t realize it at the time but this was to be one of my first lessons in the art and science of packing and handling props.

I remember being highly impressed when I observed how legendary magician Piet Paulo managed to keep his working shoes ‘unscuffed’ and polished on the road by keeping them inside old socks. Simple and easy and something I do every time I pack my suitcase. The shoes packed out with black socks and delicate props from the show.

I have taken these two ideas and combined them into my current system, which involves keeping all my props inside Crown Royale bags. Of course everything looks like everything else and it isn’t half as practical as the baggie system—-however I just love those purple bags!

Needless to say I have many other wrinkles and tips I have learned over the years, if you have an interest I am happy to share them. In fact I have an entry in my blog somewhere entitled ‘Travel Tips’ that lists some of them– including my ultimate TSA deterrent. Not for the faint of heart!

‘Psychometry Royale’ is my handling and work on Fogel’s ‘Second Spot.’ It is a killer light hearted mentalism tinged effect and is available in the online store at my website.

~ by Nick Lewin on May 21, 2013.

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